Malcolm Arnold

From Wind Repertory Project
Malcolm Arnold


Sir Malcolm Arnold (21 October 1921, Northampton, England – 23 September 2006, Norfolk, England) was a British composer and trumpeter.

Malcolm Arnold was born in Northampton to a family of shoemakers. As a rebellious teenager, he was attracted to the creative freedom of jazz. After seeing Louis Armstrong play in Bournemouth, he took up the trumpet at the age of 12 and 5 years later won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music (RCM). At the RCM he studied composition with Gordon Jacob and the trumpet with Ernest Hall. In 1941, he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra as second trumpet and became principal trumpet in 1943.

In 1944, he volunteered for military service, but after he found out the army wanted to put him in a military band, he shot himself in the foot to get back to civilian life. After a season as principal trumpet with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he returned to the London Philharmonic in 1946 where he remained until 1948 to become a full-time composer.

Malcolm Arnold began his career playing trumpet professionally, by age thirty his life was devoted to composition. He was bracketed with Britten and Walton as one of the most sought-after composers in Britain. His natural melodic gift earned him a reputation as a composer of light music in works such as his sets of Welsh, English, Scottish, Irish and Cornish Dances, and his scores to the St Trinian's films and Hobson's Choice. Arnold was a relatively conservative composer of tonal works, but a prolific and popular one. He acknowledged Hector Berlioz as an influence, and several commentators have drawn a comparison with Jean Sibelius.

He was knighted in 1993 for his service to music. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Exeter (1969), University of Durham (1982), University of Leicester (1984), Miami University of Ohio (1989), University of Winchester (1983), and the University of Northampton (2006).

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